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Paul Andersen: Fair Game

Paul Andersen
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

It’s official: According to the Department of Homeland Security, the economic downturn and the election of Barack Obama are conspiring toward a perfect sturm und drang of reactionary fear and loathing in the U.S.

Gun sales, as I reported last week, are off the charts, and ideological fervor is reaching critical mass. A storm is brewing on the socio-political front that could make Hurricane Katrina look like a spring shower.

According to Reuters News, “Right-wing extremists in the United States are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the first black U.S. president.”

Last week the Department of Homeland Security issued a report to law enforcement officials warning of “a resurgence in recruit and radicalization activity by white supremacist groups, antigovernment extremists and militia movements.”

This is why I flinched a couple weeks ago when I inadvertently tuned into Rush Limbaugh during one of his full-blooded, beet-faced, artery-throbbing radio rants. “These people must be stopped!” growled Rush. “These people must be stopped!”

“These people,” according to Rush, are liberal democrats, our elected officials, who he charges with undermining the time-honored virtues of free Americans. Rush’s proclamation was vitriolic, incendiary, and charged with latent violence.

Such implicit threats of vengeance and violence have alarmed Homeland Security and prompted the warning to police officials, some of whom are no doubt responding with conspiratorial smirks. A resurgent right-wing movement, fascist by nature, has been on the redneck agenda for generations, and now it’s finding voice.

The Homeland Security report said that “threats had so far been largely rhetorical,” but it warned that “home foreclosures, unemployment and other consequences of the economic recession could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists … To the extent that these factors persist, right-wing extremism is likely to grow in strength.”

And who would best serve as ground troops in this swelling army of discontent? The armed forces themselves. The report warned that “military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat skills could be recruitment targets, especially those having trouble finding jobs or fitting back into civilian society.”

An historic aside: The April 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City was carried out by Army veteran Timothy McVeigh, whose disgruntled approach to regime change ” a truck loaded with a fertilizer bomb ” killed 168 people.

Witness the spate of weekly shootings as desperation grips “lone wolves” who fly off the pearl-covered handle and pump dozens of shells per minute through their automatics and into their victims. Expand that to a warped populist movement fueled by rage, and there’s big trouble brewing.

“Extremist groups are preying on fears that President Barack Obama, the first African-American U.S. president, would restrict gun ownership, boost immigration and expand social programs for minorities,” the Homeland report concluded.

Here’s the scary part, and it reverberates to a grim historical epoch not far removed from the collective horror psyche. The Homeland Security report warned such groups also were exploiting anti-Semitic sentiment with accusations that “a cabal of Jewish financial elites had conspired to collapse the economy.”

Heard that tune somewhere before?

Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays in The Aspen Times.


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